Selenium is a trace mineral which works with Vitamin E to protect the body compounds from oxidation, effectively acting as an antioxidant. It is also present in the control of thyroid hormone metabolism (see Iodine), in reproduction and immune functions.
Food sources of selenium
New Zealand soils are low in selenium which affects the amount of this mineral in foods. Although New Zealand intakes of selenium have been lower than other western countries, it would appear that our bodies have adapted to this by absorbing more selenium from the diet. There has also been an increase in the amount of foods imported from Australia and America, where the soil contains good levels of selenium.
Foods rich in selenium are fish, seafood, meat, poultry, brazil nuts, eggs and bread. The use of selenium supplements is not recommended as high intakes can be toxic and have negative health effects.